Cup Thoughts was basically a giant communal coffee break with fellow artists, and hosted by a very gracious and fantastically kooky artist named Nicola Atkinson. Officially, it was a public artwork by Nicola Atkinson Does Fly. Nicola and I will hopefully be having an e-mail correspondence to discuss the event and the concept of communal meals that I can post on this blog in future, but in the meantime, check out Nicola's website Nadfly Cup Thoughts for more information and additional photos.
The idea behind Cup Thoughts was simple, but its execution required a vast network of collaborators and participants. Nicola hosted two separate events at which two different groups of people in two different countries would enjoy a cup of coffee from the same set of cups. She served coffee from cups she made herself, and a special cake, which she prepared from a recipe she created for the event, and sang a song she wrote in honor of the event. The project took place over a two year period and were based on the idea of the "Fika", which is a Swedish tradition of enjoying a public coffee break with friends, family or colleagues. As Nicola describes the project:
The starting point of Cup Thoughts is a simple question-- how do we take our coffee? Do we have it "to go" as we pursue our busy lives or do we prefer to take a break and engage in a more socialized ritual? What if we took a proper break with our work fellows for ten minutes every day? What if we detached ourselves from our computers, iphones and Blackberries? How much more productive and creative would we be together? This art project sets out to discover the effects of the "Fika" on people and their work environment.
Nicola helped encourage this communal spirit throughout the run of the show. She offered haircuts to anyone who wanted one and on the day I visited, she was out on the gallery's balcony giving her first haircut. (There seemed to be a complex payment schedule based on a first-come, first-served basis, but the haircut I witnessed cost the recipient a dollar.) We all chatted as she worked and I was asked to give an opinion about the haircut, which was quite nice and suited her client well. Then I loaned them my compact mirror so the newly coiffed artist could check out his new do.
When the event was over, we were offered the opportunity to buy the cups we drank out of. Apparently the fika participants in Sweden were jealous that we could buy the cups, but that didn't stop me. I now own Cup #35 and drink out of it every once in a while, but only when I have a rare moment alone. Drinking out of this cup is not for the frenzy of my daily life with two toddlers. I like to drink from this cup when the girls are napping and I can drink in peace, contemplating the event and wondering how I can incorporate more fika-like moments into my life.